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                       Review: Zeus Professional BBS
  David Manley                                     D.J.Manley@cf.cs.ac.uk
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AUTHORS/COMPANY INFORMATION

    Zeus Developments

    Name:       Alex May
    Location:   Lewes, England
    BBS No:     44-(0)1273-474352
    FidoNet:    2:441/58.0
    Internet:   zeus@oikos.demon.co.uk

    Name:       Nick Loman
    Location:   Brighton, England
    BBS No:     44-(0)1273-382524
    FidoNet:    2:441/58.72
    Internet:   zeus@mistral.co.uk
                rauper@pavilion.co.uk

    WWW:        http://www.mistral.co.uk/zeus/


LIST PRICE

Approximately 100UKP

DEMO VERSION

Available from the above BBSi with features disabled.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

    An Amiga with KS 2.04 or above
    A HardDrive with 5meg or more free
    2 or more megabytes of RAM

SOFTWARE

    ARexx must be installed.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 1200/020 28MHz
2 MB Chip RAM, 4 MB Fast RAM
Seagate 420MB internal Hard Drive
AmigaDOS 3.1
28.8K external modem


INSTALLATION

Zeus comes on 3 disks and with an extra utilities disk.  Installation
is via the standard installer program and takes about 5 minutes due to the
files being archived on the disks.

A point to remember is that it does not install in its own directory so you
may want to make a directory called Zeus (or similar) but as this is stated
during installation this is easily done.

The program will add several lines to S:User-Startup most of which are
assigns.  The Zeus libraries are stored in their own directory and not the
standard Libs directory.  You will also require rexxsyslib.library and
reqtools.library (V37 or above).

REVIEW

When opening the Zeus directory you will see a set of the most beautifully
drawn set of MagicWB icons I have ever seen, believe me these icons should
be in the Louvre.

Before you click on the Zeus icon you must make sure that you have run
RexxMast (I didn't and it wouldn't load (an error message may have been
nice).

The Zeus program, in my opinion, is more powerful than any BBS software on
the Amiga and certainly the most powerful I have seen on any platform.
This power comes from the fact that Zeus is completely Arexx based making
it as completely configurable as any program could be.

The Zeus software consists of 2 main screens, the menu screen and the ANSI
watcher.  On the main Zeus screen you get a display of icons and menus
which do many things and the ANSI watcher is for watching what people are
doing on your board and for Local logins.

All the screens can be opened in any resolution you require (I know for a
fact it works on a Picasso as well as standard displays).

The actual BBS side is completely based on your own Arexx scripts down to
the finest detail, but before you run away screaming there is a complete
sample BBS whose scripts you can configure to your own needs.  It really is
very easy.

The files and message editors are very easy to use and full control is
given over which files are accessible and which are not by setting various
flags.

Another of Zeus' features is the inclusion of Specialist Interest Groups,
or SIGs for short.  These can be used to seperate both message and file
areas into distinct topics so that finding the right areas is easy to do. 
Separate access restrictions can be applied to SIGs so you could have a
co-sysop who is only allowed to configure that specific area while not
having access to other areas.

The full range of file transfer protocols are available for the User
ranging from the common ZModem to the more obscure Hydra.  For those with a
few 100 megabytes of harddrive space to spare scripts are supplied to allow
you to mirror Aminet on your board provided you have internet access of
course.

Messages can be sent locally, across amateur networks such as FidoNet and
most impressively full support for Internet email.

And this is where we come to Zeus' trump card in my opinion, complete
Internet access via the BBS from email to newsgroups right up to IRC and
WWW.

A variety of BBS doors can be used including CNet, Paragon and Xenolink
giving you access to a vast array of ready programmed doors and several of
these are included.

One of the most innovative features is the introduction of ZAPP, which is
Zeus' own protocol that will allow people logging to access your drives as
if they were devices mounted on their own computers.

The Zeus software is being continually developed and will grow in to the
definitive Amiga BBS software.


DOCUMENTATION

Printed

The manual provided is a 230 page experience.  All features are fully
documented to almost perfect detail and all aspects of the software are
covered.

My favourite section is the last few pages where you can gain some insight
into the minds of the two authors and believe me its not a pretty sight.
(Sorry Guys but it had to be said :) ).

Online

The online documentation is where you will have to look if you want to read
the documentation of the Arexx commands.  The list of commands is *huge*
(well over 100) and most commands are described in detail.

Most of the printed manual is actually reproduced in Guide form so you
don't have to keep referring back to the manual.

To be honest I prefer my documentation on paper but I realise quite a few
people are partial to a bit of on-line help, swings and roundabouts I
guess.


LIKES

I love the interface, almost like MUI without the MUI if you see what I
mean.  The configurabilty is simply phenomenal for the package of its type
and there is absolutely no reason for any two BBSi to look the same.  All
it takes is a bit of imagination on the Sysop's part and the sky's the
limit.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

The only thing I dislike is the fact that I will probably never do the
product justice due to its tremendous scope for configuration.

Also there are a few problems with the manual mainly to do with the hole
punching, now whereas I can see the advantages of having a ring binder
manual allowing for new pages to be inserted as the updates become
available there really is no excuse for the holes through some of the words
where the margins haven't been set correctly.  I also went through my
manual with the hole strengthening stickers (all 230 pages) because the
pages look very likely to rip by the holes.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

Out of all the BBS programs I have used nothing can touch the power of
Zeus.  Maybe I can be proven wrong but somehow I doubt it.


BUGS

None found.


SUPPORT

Is available from the authors or one of their several distribution sites
across the world.  Also there is a special channel on EFNet, #zeus where
you can get help from experts at nearly any time.


CONCLUSIONS

A quite simply brilliant piece of software.  I'll give it 4.9 out of 5
stars (I won't give it full marks because I don't believe any software is
perfect and where would be the motivation to continue updating it).
Congratulations Alex and Nick.

I would like to point out that I am in no way connected with Zeus
Developments, Alex May, Nick Loman or in any other way associated with the
software except for that I am a very satisfied customer.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Copyright 1996 David Manley